Added spice has been added to this weekend's Champions Cup semi-final between Munster and Saracens after Mark McCall confirmed Billy Vunipola looks set to be involved for the encounter.
The number 8 has come under intense criticism in recent days after coming out on social media in defence of Israel Folau, the Australian full-back who said "hell awaits" for "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators."
Despite the remarks, McCall seems to have stood by his man as his side attempt to get back to the European showpiece this Saturday for the first time since 2017
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, McCall commented on Vunipola's availability in rather blunt fashion:
Billy will be available, yeah.
The reaction of this weekend's crowd in Coventry will be interesting after the English back-row forward was booed during Saracen's clash at the weekend with Bristol Bears. Moreover, after losing the Premiership clash at Ashton Gate, Bristol, in a blatant response to Vunipola's sentiments, played 'It's Raining Men' over the stadium PA system.
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So this morning I got 3 phone calls from people telling me to ‘unlike’ the @izzyfolau post. This is my position on it. I don’t HATE anyone neither do I think I’m perfect. There just comes a point when you insult what I grew up believing in that you just say enough is enough, what he’s saying isn’t that he doesn’t like or love those people. He’s saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be. Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no? I’m not perfect I’m at least everything on that list at least at one point in my life. It hurts to know that. But that’s why I believe there’s a God. To guide and protect us and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
This evening, the England international's club released a statement, in which they condemned Vunipola for making what they called " a serious error of judgement".
Senior representatives of the Club yesterday held lengthy discussions with Billy Vunipola regarding his recent social media activity.
At Saracens, we are one family, open to all with the firm view that everyone should be treated equally with respect and humility. We recognise the complexity of different belief systems and understand Billy’s intention was to express the word of God rather than cause offence. However, he made a serious error of judgement in publicly sharing his opinion, which is inconsistent with the values of the Club and contravenes his contractual obligations. The player has been formally warned about his future conduct.
While this weekend's game is officially a home game for the English side, the large Munster support expected to travel across the Irish Sea could give the English man an unnerving response from the stands.
What was already an interesting battle keeps getting more interesting.